After the News 2 I-Team report on homes with a history of flooding, a national organization contacted the station about their efforts in Washington DC to make sure people don’t end up owning a home with flooding problems. PEW Charitable Trusts is using Charleston as a model for how problematic flooding can be.
PEW Charitable Trusts’ Director Phyllis Cuttino says, “We’re really looking to Charleston and Mayor Riley’s experience so we can take that and really apply it at the federal level in terms of these types of reforms.”
They want to prevent repeat flooding, by requiring flood history to be disclosed more specifically, and to make it a national policy that follows the home from buyer to buyer.
Former Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley says, “It isn’t necessarily that the seller wouldn’t be candid with them, it may be that the seller hasn’t had it that long either. So there should be a history of flooding experiences that run with property.”
Cuttino says, “There is federal precedence for this because we already require disclosure of lead based paint presence, for instance, in older homes, that has to be disclosed. So this shouldn’t be something that is too difficult, it should be something that most members of Congress can really get behind and support.”
This is expected to go before Congress in mid-September. Riley and PEW are also pushing to expand the Hazard Mitigation Program to pull people out of repeatedly flooded homes and ultimately save FEMA money in fixing them.
Riley says, “Homeowners in those areas sometimes are stuck. They can’t sell the property but when there’s a flood there’s going to be costs associated and FEMA will have to come in and help. So in some places the best thing would be for that to be acquired, people would be paid their fair market value so they can buy a home that’s not going to flood and then that area that’s flooding can be converted into a park or something else.”
PEW also aims to encourage frequently flooded areas, like Charleston, to preserve wetlands and marshes, so that the flooded areas don’t expand because of the lack of the natural drainage system.